|08/29/19||DIBENNEDETTO NASCAR'S ROCKY BALBOA|
|06/26/19||FROM JOURNEYMAN DRIVER TO HALL OF FAMER|
|06/18/19||WINNERS NOT ADDING UP|
|05/25/19||THE 600 IS STILL A CROWN JEWEL|
|05/15/19||NEXT TWO WEEKS COULD BE TOO GOOD|
|04/10/19||WALTRIP A TWO-WAY HALL OF FAMER|
Usually, when someone dominates races at the beginning of a season like Kevin Harvick has at Atlanta and Las Vegas, the murmuring
That, however, is not what happened after Harvick bludgeoned the competition for the second week in a row.
"I don't know if they've picked it up quicker than we have or the rules have benefited their body style more than it did ours," explained champ Martin Truex, Jr. after finishing fourth. "We had to change some things from how we did them last year and it appears those guys are really quick right now. We have to hand it to them, they did their homework and they're really fast and they're doing a good job. I'm not going to be the one that sits here and says there's an unfair advantage because I haven't figured that out yet."
Even Kyle Busch was willing to give Harvick and Company their due and, as hard as this is to believe, "Rowdy" was actually satisfied with his runner-up run. "Definitely, second is fine if you get your butt beat as bad as we got our butt beat. We'll take that finish. It was a win for the field as the "4" was a class of his own."
"I just don't remember the last time I had as dominant of a car as the "4" car the last couple of weeks. We just have to go to work and try to figure it out and fix it and get ourselves to that level."
For those who didn't see this coming, Harvick wonders why they didn't. "At the end of last year, our car was as competitive as anybody," he said. "We drove to Victory Lane there at Texas and led the most laps and won both stages and just had some things not work out for us at Charlotte. So, the mile?and?a?half stuff has been on point since we got to Chicago last year."
His crew chief Rodney Childers added, "I think we've done a good job as a team to focus on the details over the winter and focus on the fundamentals of racing, and really just focus on our own stuff and kind of forget about the trick of the week and all the other stuff that goes around."
The competition is digging hard to make up the ground Harvick and Childers do not want to give back. "There's always things that you can make better. When things are like this, you want to capitalize on them, and you want to capitalize on your cars and your people and your enthusiasm and the momentum and all the things that come with that, so you're almost scared to even really step back and say, we did this or we did that."
It also fuels Harvick's belief this could be adding up to a second Monster Energy Cup Series championship. "Let's just keep pushing things forward and try not to stumble along the way and screw up what's going on, because to me, so far, it feels a lot like 2014 except you've got a team with five years of experience, and that's pretty scary."
"It does kind of feels like 2014 again right now," admitted Kyle Larson. "He's definitely in his own league, but it's still early in the year. There's still a lot of time to work on our stuff and figure out some different stuff to make our car go faster."
Like Larson, Truex believes there will be a time they can brawl with Harvick and not come away looking like a guy who came out on the wrong end of
Declared a defiant Kyle Busch, "It's early, this
Until the Playoff begins, though, don't look for Harvick to back down an inch. "When things are going good, you need to hammer it home. You need to capitalize on it. You need to win stages because there will be a point where you go through that lull where somebody else is hot, and you hope that your hot streak is longer than theirs so you can score more points and put yourself in a better position to try to put yourself in a better position for the playoff points than anybody else."
So, with so much talk at the beginning of the season about the younger drivers making their mark in 2018, the 42-year-old Californian is the one surfing out front. "I'm just fortunate to be riding the wave. You can call me old, you can call us old, but cars are fast and things are going well."
And nobody crying about it…yet.